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Does Remote Work Improve Career Opportunities for Women?

A New York Times article asked experts whether the increased opportunities for hybrid work will likely benefit women in their careers. The answer is unclear.

Women continue to bear most of the childrearing responsibilities in the U.S. Working from home gives moms much-needed flexibility to work and take care of their kids. Data shows labor force participation by women is at an all-time high, especially for women with young children and a college degree. Experts assert that keeping women in the workforce benefits the economy because hiring is easier. Employers keep skilled workers and save money they would need to recruit and train new employees. According to a Brookings Institute assessment, most mothers working from home do have childcare. The flexible hours allow them to handle childcare gaps, like after school and when a child is home sick. Men and women have relatively equal access to hybrid work schedules.

However, some employers view employees who work from home as “lazy” or not working as hard. One expert said these perceptions may lead to “strengthening the invisible escalator for white men.” Traditionally, managers viewed working in the office as a sign of increased productivity. That view continues for many managers. Job advancement requires face-to-face interaction, which can give in-office workers an advantage. That perception may end up harming women. Joan Williams, a University of California Law San Francisco professor, states, "Hybrid workplaces will make it easier for women to remain in the labor force but harder for women to advance." Hopefully, the increased work flexibility post-pandemic k will ultimately benefit everyone.